In 1998 'The King' or Jim Brown was a postal worker from Belfast, Northern
Ireland until hitting the big time with his re-interpretations of
contemporary songs, in the style of Elvis Presley.
The road to stardom for Jimmy started on a Sunday afternoon at a works
karaoke; he was surprised to hear the compere call him up to the
stage... well until he saw his wife and aunt laughing and he realised he'd
been set up.
Supposedly he'd sang in the shower, on his post rounds and occasionally
before his family,
but never to so many strangers. He chose Elvis's 'The
Wonder Of You' and 'Suspicious Minds', the audience were impressed and
so was the club owner; who offered him a spot to do an act. One
performance into his stint, the producer Bap Kennedy came over
introduced himself and asked Jimmy if he wanted to make a couple of
The album was to be in the style of Elvis, and they talked over what
songs to put on it, Jimmy said :-
"I told him I tried to imagine if Elvis was alive today what maybe he would be
doing. I told him I thought the old Eddie
Cochran song, 'Something Else,' was a song I could imagine Elvis singing.
I loved the way the Sex Pistols had done the
song. We talked about some modern-day hit songs. Then he suggested,
'What do you think of Elvis tributes Nirvana?' I
thought it was a bit bizarre. He gave me a copy of the 'Nevermind' album.
I had heard a couple of Nirvana tracks and liked
some of the songs I heard, but I never actually sat down and listened to a
whole album. I listened to it and called him up a
few days later and said I didn't want to pursue that project. I just didn't
like the idea of a whole album of Nirvana songs. I
did think 'Come As You Are' was a very eligible track. We had those two songs,
then he suggested Bob Marley's 'No Woman No Cry.' I laughed, 'Elvis singing
a reggae song?'
He said, 'We don't have to do it in reggae style.
We can change it a little to make it a ballad with a bit of a country feel to
it.' It was at that point that we realized each artist sadly was no longer
with us, and hence 'Gravelands' was born."
Jimmy signed the deal with EMI and Gravelands (1998) his first album
was released to critical acclaim, Bob Geldof and DJ John Peel openly
praised him. Despite it being an album of cover songs Jimmy is just
singing the only way he knows how, and it's probably because he's just
so good and the material is so right that he's had the success
he has. Jimmy actually met Charlie Hodge one of Elvis's friends :-
"He met Elvis in the Army and they became lifelong friends," Brown said.
"He sang a lot of harmonies on most of his
records from 1960 onwards and was always there beside him onstage
on all his tours, right up to the very end. Charlie
Hodge said about me 'This guy made my flesh creep.' He thought his
old boss was back again."
Admitedly Jimmy doesn't have the ego the size of a planet like most rock
stars do, and here's what he says about his own voice:-
"I'm coming completely clean, I'm not really hot about the sound
of me voice anyway. I've listened to Elvis
Presley since I was a young boy; his voice was much warmer, richer and deeper
than mine. His voice was beautiful, so
when I hear me own voice, it's like 'Ooooo.' "
All I can say is listen and decide for yourself, I think Gravelands is a fantastic
album, I suppose I coudn't help laughing at Nirvana's
Come As You Are done in the Elvis stylee. But Jimmy's
integrity, balls and talent carries it. If everybody should own an
Elvis album, then you could do a lot worse than this one.
His fan base is still growing, Robbie Williams has supposedely
approached him to do a duet, Fun Lovin' Criminals invited him on
tour, and a track from his Return to Splendor has been used by Audi in
Germany as part of it's advertising. He seems keen to keep recording,
and isn't short of inspiration; check him out, I reckon he'll be doing
his thing for quite some time, and is probably a damn good stage act.
Return To Splendor 2000
Sources :- http://www.gravelands.com/,